After years of negotiation and noisy debate today the European Parliament voted to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada. That sets the stage for 90 per cent of the agreement to be applied once the Canadian Parliament follows suit in the next few months. This could occur as early as April 1.
Deal counters U.S. protectionism
The agreement is especially important to Canada given the uncertainty about how U.S. President Donald Trump intends to change the trade agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Although Trump made some reassuring noises this week that his target was mostly Mexico, he did say that the agreement with Canada would be “tweaked.” It is not at all clear what that means.
As it now stands, there is 2.5 billion dollars’ worth of trade between the two countries daily and 75 per cent of Canada’s exports are shipped to the U.S. Any barriers to trade between the two countries would have a huge impact on Canada’s economy.
Deal said to set ‘highest progressive standards’
“President Trump has given us another good reason to intensify our links with Canada — while Trump introduces tariffs, we are not only tearing them down but also setting the highest progressive standards,” said Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe reports Canadian Press.
Fear of CETA demonstrated
Demonstrators outside the European Parliament protested the agreement and there are Canadian groups opposed as well. There is fear that the deal is a threat to countries’ sovereignty and that it would allow U.S. subsidiaries that operate in Canada to sue the governments of EU member states.
CETA is a comprehensive deal that drops tariffs and grants new market access for many products including agricultural commodities. It also will allow European interests to bid on Canadian government contracts and it harmonizes labour and environmental standards.